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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Faery Calendars Are Here!

Choosing a new wall calendar each December has become something of a ritual with me. I look for calendar art that is unique and inspiring---something to set the daily tone for what I hope will be a new year full of creativity and joy.
This year I decided to try something different and create a calendar using my own imagery. I hope it will inspire me to see something of what I've already accomplished and also provide an impetus to continue to create and explore. I make many different types of art but I selected images of my faery miniatures as something I could enjoy and also share with people of all ages--- The response to my work in the realm of faery has always been so warm and genuine.
The Lulu site has published a twelve month wall calendar of my faery art, available here: You can view all the images and month pages on the Lulu site and see if this calendar might be the right one to start your new year off in an enchanting way! It has twelve full colour images of my faery natural materials art works in a format designed to look like a vintage photo album
The calendar is in English but it has holidays for the US, UK and France noted for each month. Lulu online shops are also available in various European countries, the US and Australia and you can click to see the site in your home language and currency.
Here's a peek at what lies inside....




Whatever your choice in calendars may you have a wonderful New Year all year long!

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Forest Child...a fairy tale...story and art work (C) Diana Heyne 2014

       Once there was a very old woman who lived alone with her cats and a few milk goats at the edge of a great, dark wood. She was happy for the most part with the company of her animals and the creatures and plants of the forest, yet sometimes, especially on long winter nights before the fire, she longed for another human life to share the hours.
       One evening the sky grew full of dark clouds and the wind fierce, building in strength until it howled around the eaves all night with such force that the woman despaired of her cottage standing. Finally, despite the wind and her worries, she nodded off in her chair before the hearth with a cat curled on her lap and others perched close around her.
       She awoke to a morning of bright sunlight and gentle breezes as unlike the night before as a day could be. When she stepped outside to draw water at the well she looked first to her roof of thatch and saw it had miraculously survived almost intact. Then she saw, out of the corner of her eye, something like a small flag flapping white in the breeze, high up on a branch of an ancient oak. The old woman fetched her thatching ladder and climbed to the lowest branches of the tree. The cats watched, unblinking, as the woman made her way from limb to limb, agile as a mountain goat despite her great age. At last she was able to reach out and grasp what she now saw was a child’s christening gown of lace and fine linen, embroidered with tiny seed pearls and gold thread.
       Later that same day the old woman sat before the fire examining the exquisite needle work of the gown and wondering from whence such a fine thing had blown, for surely the storm had dropped it in passing. A plan began to form in her mind…
       The setting sun found her at the edge of an ancient circle of upright stones that had stood on a nearby hilltop since time out of mind. The old woman stretched the gown out over the central altar stone and regarded her work. She had fashioned a doll of sorts, of twigs and feathers and moss, and a songbird’s nest with two speckled eggs in the place where the heart should beat. She gave a sigh of satisfaction and leaving it there on the stone, turned homeward in the sun’s last rays.
        The next day was overcast and quiet, with a nippy chill in the air. The old woman milked her goats and fed the cats, banked the fire and then took out her sewing things. She commenced to fashion a small dress of patches, for that was all the material she had. As she pieced and embroidered she hummed under her breath, an odd tune that was quite low but still there. The intervals were ancient and strange and where she had learned the melody she really couldn’t say.
       The woman had once more nodded off before the fire, her sewing still in her lap, when a faint scratching noise disturbed her. She blinked sleepily at the cats dozing quietly on the hearth and heard the sound again, now stronger than before. It seemed suddenly to come from everywhere and nowhere. The woman reluctantly stood and with some misgiving made her way to the cottage door. Opening the door a crack, she saw nothing, and so swung it wider. There on the stone step before her was a tiny girl, clad in the familiar christening gown. The child stood upright as no babe of her age should and looked the old woman directly in the eye. Before the woman could think what to do, the infant had scuttled around her skirts and into the cottage.
       The cats, who had observed all this from a distance, suddenly scattered to the far corners and up into the rafters where they remained long into the evening, despite the old woman’s coaxing.
       The days after the child’s arrival were, for the old woman, short on sleep and long on staying the mischief that seemed to hang like a cloud over the tiny form. At times the infant appeared to receive an almost cruel pleasure in chasing the cats, who had now taken to sleeping out of reach on the beams. The old woman missed them twining about her ankles when she arose in the morning or curling in warmth on her lap before the fire at night. But now the little child was there in their place and she, the old woman, had wished it so. And if the babe delivered a few punches of her tiny fists to the nanny goats’ pregnant bellies, or pulled an unwary cat’s tail, the old woman knew it was her duty and privilege as a foster mother to teach the girl kindness instead.
       The child grew alarmingly fast and seemed almost constantly hungry. The old woman spent much of her time preparing milk and porridge in an attempt to fill the child’s belly and stop the fretful crying that came more and more frequently. One night the child seemed especially restless and when the old woman bent over her bed she found the child with a fever, perhaps brought on by teething. The old woman gently parted the sleeping infant’s lips and sought to have a look at her gums. As the old woman’s finger touched her mouth the child’s eyes flashed abruptly open. Then she bit down with a surprising strength and her victim felt the painful grip of a full set of small, sharp teeth embedded in her finger. She cried out and tried to pull away but the child held fast and began to suck at the finger with a ferocity that froze the woman in alarm. The child’s eyes seemed to wax larger and larger and the old woman found looking in them like tumbling headlong down a bottomless well. Then the infant gasped and the old woman was snapped back to reality, freeing her finger at the same moment with a quick twist.
     The woman did her best to forget the strange incident although it was more than a week before her finger healed properly. The child continued to grow and eat by day and by night until the old woman feared there would soon be nothing but empty shelves staring back at her from the larder. At last she decided that the beautiful christening dress would surely fetch a good price from the clothing merchants in the nearest town and she prepared to be ready for travel when the next market day arrived.
       One early morning not long after, the old woman dressed the child in the patchwork gown and swung her gently up into a backpack lined with moss and the scraps of an old felt blanket. For once the child slept quietly, all the long walk into the market town. They arrived before noon and the woman wandered for a little while around the stalls, searching for a friendly face amongst the merchants who bought and sold garments. Most of them offered far too little, a few others gave her suspicious glares and asked where the likes of her had come by a thing of such beauty. At last she came to a stall run by a young man and his wife. The young wife spread the christening dress out carefully on a scrap of fabric to preserve its pristine whiteness. They both seemed attentive, even kind, as they examined the gown closely, turning it this way and that in the clear sunlight.
       As the husband and wife put their heads together to confer, the old woman heard a muffled gasp behind her and turned to see an elegantly attired lady and her attendant standing with their eyes fastened on the gown. Both wore looks of pain and mingled horror. As the lady shifted her focus to the old woman, she grew angry. 
       “ Wretched thief! How did you come by this gown?” Her maid tried vainly to calm her but the woman became more hysterical by the moment. The old woman felt her heart lurch but gathered her courage to speak as if her life depended upon it, which, in her experience, was quite likely.
       “Good madam, please hear me. This gown was blown to my forest home by the great storm a fortnight ago. I found it snagged on the branch of an oak near my door with no clue from whence it came. I only sought to sell it to buy extra milk and meal for my poor hungry foster child.” At that the old woman turned back the corner of her pack to reveal the sleeping infant’s face and the angry noblewoman collapsed into a senseless heap in her servant’s arms.
       Later, at the inn where the three women adjourned, the noblewoman recounted a tragic tale that had now reached a strange and miraculous turning. She had recognized the gown as her own needlework, lovingly made for her infant daughter, a child whom she now held joyfully in her arms. But the old woman waxed increasingly uneasy as the tale unfolded and decided it wise to keep her own tale untold, at least in part.
       While the child’s father was away surveying his lands in a distant county, the little one had managed to wriggle free of her nurse’s arms and fall head first to the castle’s stone floor. The child appeared to die instantly from the sharp blow to her small skull. That night the grief stricken mother sat in her private chapel beside the still form of her only child, who was laid out before the altar in her best gown. Although the distraught young woman had refused the offers of servants and friends alike to sit with her or take a turn at watch, finally she nodded in her chair.  She was awakened by an unearthly roaring and a wind that seemed to rip the air from her lungs. As she looked up, dazed, a corner of the chapel roof appeared to peel away, revealing an oddly luminous sky. Then, with a sickening thud, something heavy hit her from behind and she remembered nothing until she awoke in her bed the next morning. Her head throbbed and her left arm lay bound up, limp and useless. She begged her serving women to take her back to the chapel but their wide eyes and barely disguised horror left no doubt something was gravely amiss.
       In mid afternoon when they left her briefly alone she managed to stagger down the corridor, supporting herself against the walls. When at last she came to the open chapel door, her mind refused to accept what she saw. Where last night a tiny body had rested in its shroud, sunlight poured in through an open roof onto the bare stone floor.
          The lady paused for a moment in her story and passed her hand over her face. The old woman shuddered involuntarily, imagining the horror of the scenes described. At last she spoke, choosing her words with care, “Madam, I have attended babes ill with some great wound or fever that slipped into a sleep so deep it left little to show they still lived. Perhaps your daughter was one of these. By some great good fortune the storm, rather than causing her harm, restored her to waking life.”
       The young woman hugged the child closer to her and bestowed a radiant smile on the old woman. “It is nothing short of a miracle! And we have you to thank for bringing her back to us! Of course when my husband returns we will see you amply rewarded with a house and land…”
         “Madam, I assure you, reuniting mother and child is reward enough.” The old woman had begun to fidget slightly.
          “Well,” the lady smiled, “at least take this small token today and then we shall see…” Her serving woman loosened a heavy pouch from beneath her gown and handed it to the other woman. “And now you must excuse us as we are overcome by the events of this day and must return directly home.”
       Although the old woman was secretly relieved and just as anxious to depart, she was all courtesy. “Of course, my lady. You must both rest. Take all my good wishes with you”
        The old woman watched for a moment as the small party walked away in the direction of the castle walls, the child snuggled against her mother’s shoulder. Just before they passed out of sight the old woman saw the child lift her head and smile at her, revealing a full set of tiny, sharp, white teeth. Then she buried her face in the curve of her mother’s smooth neck and was lost from view.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Salt Dough Tutorial in Scandinavian Makes Magazine

If you'd like to make ornaments like these for Christmas, Yule or other holidays---or just for fun daily decor, I have an article in the new Scandinavian Makes magazine available in the UK and on-line. The tutorial takes the reader through the creation of an owl, step-by-step in photographs and written instructions. Once you've tried this inexpensive and enjoyable craft the possibilities are unlimited! Below are a few of my owls and others made with a mixture of salt, flour and water, an oven and a bit of patience... http://www.scandinavian

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Le Dolmen de la Pierre-Pèse, Limolonges, France, late August

The roadside sign that marked the path was small and low to the ground. I walked away from the intense sound of vehicles whizzing past, their weight and power all too evident on a narrow road with no really safe space for pedestrians, into a moss and ivy hung oak wood full of birdsong. From the moment I entered it was obvious that this was no ordinary place, and then the dolmen came into view, so perfect and magical it literally took my breath away.

Once a tumulus covered with an earthen mound that has since vanished, le Dolmen de la Pierre-Pèse is a megalithic monument that has stood for perhaps five thousand years in the French countryside. An early archaeological exploration here in the first years of the 19th century turned up many human bone fragments, confirming the dolmen's use as a burial site in Neolithic times. In the not too distant past folk beliefs throughout Europe connected dolmens and other megalithic monuments with the faery realm. Whilst visiting this site one could very easily be convinced that there is truth in these tales... 

I discovered this small bird of prey dead nearby and carried it inside the dolmen as a fitting place of rest.
And from this site I brought home with me a small clump of moss, two bright crimson hawthorne berries and two brindled feathers that lay on the ground

Friday, June 13, 2014

The unexpected in the countryside of Burgundy, France...Temple of 1000 Buddhas

Tucked away amid pastures full of white Charolais cattle grazing under perfect blue skies is a piece of another world... the Temple of 1000 Buddhas, a richly detailed Himalayan style Tibetan Buddhist temple surrounded by stupas on the outside and housing monumental statues of Tara, the Buddha and Manjushri in the interior. It was the first Himalayan temple to be built in Europe and was officially inaugurated in the summer of 1987, although the temple was founded in 1974. It is a striking and beautifully executed site full of colour and energy.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A short story about a shape shifting alien, cat worship and animal experimentation...

(C) 2014 by Diana Heyne

      Floating down from the deep blackness of space he could see the planet looming below, so lush and green that it reminded him of a mossy waistcoat his mother had worn years before. He had loved to bury his face in the softness of it, drinking in the exotic fragrances of spices lingering in the fiber. Ossus thought of her now, her face brown and ridged as his boots of leatherwood, looking so fragile and ancient that he felt a sharp pang of guilt. Just this last adventure had needed the doing, had called him. Then as suddenly he was filled with exhilaration, enraptured in this drifting down, light as a wind borne seed to the beckoning luxuriance.
    His boot tips landed with a crunch in the sandy gravel of a mountainous plateau where bitter winds drove a powder of snow against his back. Stark granite peaks thrust upward in violent loveliness from a valley that seemed as distant below as this changeable planet seen from space.
    “Hardly what I was expecting,” he murmured huskily to himself, lashing the storm flaps tighter around his leggings and mentally fortifying the shimmering skin dancing about his body.
    The great light that had flared at his comings and goings in this corner of the galaxy had begun to dim, turning the high masses of water vapor in the upper atmosphere a deep crimson. Ossus traveled west with the beckoning light, the snow piling so deep around his boots that he rose and floated a hand span above the surface. But the effort was too great after his long journey and he began to search for a shelter where he could summon the deep, rejuvenating sleep that post space required. Eventually amid the lengthening shadows he spotted a fault in the cliff face, where it deepened to black, and he made his way there, his breath a harsh rattle in the face of the wind.
    The cave was sheltered with only a narrow, angled opening that baffled the wind. The space was fragrant with a musky odor Ossus found strangely pleasing, a low note below the faint biting pitch of urine. He drew himself upright in the doorway and released an inquiring flare of light from his palm. It traveled quickly around the domed hollow, revealing nothing more than a stone ledge that ran the length of one wall. It was littered with the scattered bones of small gnawing animals not unlike those Ossus had observed on his own world. He felt the faint twitch of his teeth forming to the familiar pattern of the lemhares’ incisors but stopped his mutation before it could go further. He was exhausted and would sleep now without indulging in these childish games. With a smile on his thin lips, he set the guard flares about his body and sank into sleep.
   In his dream he was aware of the musky scent of his shelter, this time stronger and more insistent. He sensed a great warmth and softness encircling him, and most startling of all he felt his small, now lipless mouth hungrily sucking sweet nourishment. He plunged his blunt forefeet again and again into plush fur until his extended claws met pure muscle and he awoke to find her harsh tongue on him, rasping his eyelids, his nostrils and his round taut belly.
    In her mind he read the images of a tiny limp body she had carried away from this place and the strange joy that seized her when she returned to find her living cub restored. She was young and it had been her first pregnancy---she had no way of knowing that this was not the natural order of things. Now she found herself once more with a spotted kit nestled beside her, one whose small form appeared to carry the blueprint of all her beauty and power.
   So he stayed with the snow leopard for a time in his guise of cub. She marveled at how quickly he grew until at last they hunted side by side on the snowy plateau and down the surrounding slopes. Sometimes they ran for the sheer joy of feeling their powerfully fluid bodies in movement through the chill crystalline air. They were alone with the voice of the wind in the heights and only once did they observe, at a great distance, another large creature. It appeared to move effortlessly upright on two legs, floating a short distance above the earth, partially encased in a smooth skin of saffron and burgundy. The only part of it that came close to touching the ground below was the odd shimmering halo of light that surrounded its entire body. It was not so lovely as the snow leopard with her lithe grace and beautifully patterned fur. Still Ossus felt a great calm and admiration fill him as he watched the solitary monk and for a moment his adopted mother gazed in wonder at the serene, shaven human head atop the feline body of her son.
  Then one day he lifted his nose to the wind and knew it was time to go. There was a new scent in the air, like her odour, only stronger, more musky and demanding. She felt a momentary pang when she sensed he was leaving, but she had been distracted for days by the scent of the other unknown male who prowled ever closer to her den.
  Ossus kept his snow leopard body long enough to descend into a temperate valley but soon found the humid warmth oppressive in such heavy fur, designed expressly for life in the chilly heights. He was sorry to dissolve the artful pattern of the spotted coat that he thought one of his best efforts to date but entered joyfully into the change that brought him low to the ground in the smooth form of a long, legless being he had seen dangling from a tree near by. Fueled by his hunger for small furred things he slithered hidden among the tall grasses and stones, always alert to the scents brought to him through his marvelous, constantly flicking tongue. He reveled in the tickle of earth under his belly and the warmth that sun drenched rocks carried coursing through his blood.
   He was uncertain how long he had slept when some movement sensed in his dream caused his elongated body to contract into a rough “s”. At that moment he felt the sharp vibration of metal striking stone near his head and in one movement rolled away and upward, closely followed by the old two legged’s cry as she watched him rise with the wings of a rock dove sprouting from his serpentine form. Long after the change was complete, he turned his feathered head down to see her still following his flight, a toy sized figure leaning on an ancient hoe at the edge of a vegetable patch. He could just make out the dark gap of her open mouth.
   And so he again became a creature of air, some days drifting seed-like on the currents, on others winging swiftly, covered with air-filled shafts that bore him up to the brightness of the massive day star or among dark masses of grey-black water vapor that flashed and sparked with their own powerful light.
   Looking down he saw green things everywhere and one day among them a flash of orange and black. It was the back of a creature not unlike the snow leopard, but larger and even more powerfully made. Ossus watched as the massive animal stalked a swift, slender creature with huge liquid eyes, one who seemed without voice until the end when the tiger bore down on its spine. A strangled, high pitched scream escaped its body and Ossus felt the beast's final terror rush through him. For a moment he was both pursuer and victim, in another body high above the earth.

   Then it was too much for him to sustain the substance of all three creatures and he began to spin out of control, spiraling down among broken branches and leaves until he managed to snag with one hairy arm the thick vine of a jungle creeper. He swung hand over hand to the shelter of a large tree branch. Snuggled tight against the trunk he scratched his smooth belly skin and quickly fell into a deep sleep.
   For months now he had traveled, watching them everywhere, small and large, many colored, living in jungle and desert and in the houses of the strange furless beings who walked on two legs. In many of their languages the two leggeds called them “cat,” or something else that sounded very like it. Ossus saw that these cats were sometimes feared or even hated but just as often adored and worshiped. He had  learned that they were truly gods (having guessed as much from the moment he laid eyes on the snow leopard) when for a few weeks he assumed the two legged form. He was hired to work among humans with an instrument of wood and metal, lifting dry sand to uncover what was known among the two leggeds as a rock cut tomb, a place that on the outside seemed not unlike the snow leopard’s den. When the entrance was finally breeched he saw clearly that the resemblance ended there. When they opened the sealed stone and he glimpsed the interior for the first time it took his breath away for the ancient two leggeds had made it beautiful with all their magics. The walls seemed alive with color and Ossus saw scenes of humans and cats together, hunting in the tall water reeds, or a wise and powerful cat alone, slaying the serpent form that Ossus knew so well. He felt most drawn to the images of the mother cat and her young and once again felt a pang for the two mothers he had loved and left, not so very long before.
   The floor and rock shelves of the tomb were filled with containers, shaped and  painted to resemble the bodies of cats, patterned with colours taken from the glowing indigo and turquoise sky at dusk, side by side with the golden light of sunrise. The two leggeds in charge were ecstatic and for the moment so was he. It was one of the most beautiful sights Ossus had seen in all his many travels through as many worlds.
   A few days later when all was photographed and mapped the two leggeds began to move some of the cat shaped containers to a large tent where they had made a place of study they called a field laboratory. Ossus watched entranced as one man painstakingly began to unwrap the dull ivory-brown bundle that lay within a container. It was swathed in layers of the flat, soft material humans called fabric and everywhere seemed to deem so indispensable. There was a great length of this fabric, wrapped in clever patterns and turnings but after much unwinding Ossus finally saw the thing that lay within. It was dry and hideously shriveled, the colour of dust and steeped in the cloying odour of old death. Ossus knew it for a cat, but so greatly changed he found it hard to comprehend even though on this world he knew death came differently than in his own. He thought again with sadness of his birth mother, so ancient. Yet she would choose her time and go into a changeless form, gradually becoming one with the planet over eons. Here the ancient two leggeds, in their search for eternal life, had made these things called mummies, through a process they inflicted even on the dead of their own kind. The odour made him slightly ill and he was most of all saddened by these shadow creatures, no longer lithe and beautiful.
  After that he stayed only long enough to collect the metal discs that symbolized his long hours of digging in the sun. He left his pay outside one of the whitewashed shelters in a walled city of the more recently dead. He had watched an ancient, stooped two legged carrying food to the scores of cats and their young that congregated there among the tombs.
  His travel across the immense blue element was long. At times he swam with a pulsing motion deep in a darkness where jets of warmth spiraled up from below and miraculous animals glowed like constellations with a light all their own. Sometimes he had a powerfully muscled tail that propelled him joyfully below a roof of turquoise shot with  light and he was not alone but with others of his kind. Yet always the two leggeds were there, even on the great water, pursuing, killing, driving on. Ossus could sense their overpowering and strange need to destroy but it was beyond his experience to comprehend.                                                   
   He first saw her with her four tiny kits at the back of a narrow alley. They were tucked into the  lip of a low window behind a huge metal bin where the two leggeds brought bulky forms in sheaths of shiny black or dark green. At first Ossus wondered if these were carefully wrapped offerings for the cat. From a distance he watched her raid the bin daily for food, yet she was thin and seemed fragile. Her kittens searched restlessly at her side even after they had nursed, crying too often to seem satisfied. Despite this he was touched by their beauty and the way their mother lovingly washed each one and then drew them close, tucking her head and front paws protectively around them.
   The female cat looked up, frightened by the approach of the muscular tiger striped male. She hissed a warning and tensed to fight, knowing in an all out confrontation he would surely win. She hoped to bluff, to frighten him enough to make him sure it wasn’t worth his trouble destroying the offspring of another male.
  Then he stopped and sat back quietly on his haunches. He was the colour of the cobblestones, grey and black with streaks of cream. His head was broad and strong with huge green eyes and in his mouth he held a mouse. She stared at him for what seemed long minutes until he placed it on the cobbles and turned away. He was leaving the mouse for her. She waited tensely for a moment to see if he was really gone then shook herself free of the tiny grasping mouths and retrieved the limp rodent. It was still warm, as she liked them best, and the bones made a satisfying crunch between her small, strong jaws. Afterward, she groomed herself and half-slept with squinted eyes and a rumbling throat while eight tiny paws kneaded her side.
   It became their routine. Ossus brought her food night and morning, mostly mice and small birds, once a pigeon. She grew to trust him and now came out to greet him when he arrived. They sat together, grooming each other at midday when a brief band of sunlight fell between the tall buildings. The kittens grew stronger, their eyes open now, tumbling over each other, biting ears and tails and climbing the small mountain range made by the adults cats lazing in the warm sun.
   But life was not always gentle for Ossus. He was chased by the two legged young through the alleys where he tried to hunt, other male cats challenged him to battle almost daily and once a woman threw scalding water down from a window onto his back.
Trucks and buses rumbled by constantly on the adjacent streets and made Ossus long for the stillness of the high mountains where he had first arrived on this planet.
   One morning as Ossus turned the corner with a fat mouse in his jaws, he was stopped short by a great roaring monster with flashing yellow lights. It pulled up beside the dumpster and its huge metal arms began to flail against the sides, making a hideous din that sent all the cats in the alley scrambling for the storm sewers and basement windows. Ossus instinctively turned to run until he realized that the beautiful cat and her young could not follow. They sat huddled  miserably in the niche of a cellar window, trying to make themselves small against the cracked, filthy glass. Ossus watched as a two legged male stepped down from the noisy, odourous vehicle and approached the cat and her kittens. The man smiled and called to his partner who came slowly down from the cab, carrying a cardboard box. They scooped up the kittens and their mother followed with little resistance. The two leggeds quickly lifted the box into the truck and swung themselves up after it. Then they were gone amid a chaos of roaring and flashing. For a moment Ossus felt disoriented, then he sprang into the air, his new wings carrying him up and after the moving vehicle that held the beautiful cat and her litter.  
   The truck soon came to a halt and there was more of the deafening clanging, metal on metal, accompanied by the grinding of machinery. Ossus entered the open cab window as a very small winged creature that the beautiful cat didn’t recognize. She made an eager swipe with her paw through the air. Ossus was dazed by the blow and tumbled down into the forest of her fur. He swiftly became like the other living things there, even more minute and clad in hard brown armour. The salty iron tang of her blood made him feel frenzied with hunger but Ossus resisted. Instead he found that in this new form he could leap all the way from her lower back to her neck in a single startling jump.
   The morning passed in a round of deafening stops and starts, although the flash of the yellow lights seemed to grow less troubling as the day grew brighter. Ossus rested quietly behind the beautiful cat’s ear where he could observe the kittens as they nursed or slept beside her.
  At midday the truck stopped in front of a building with a facade of smoked glass windows overlaid with a metal grille that blocked any chance of a view inside. Before Ossus could decide what was to be done, one man was jumping down and he felt the box shift. They were being carried inside. They entered through a loading dock in a back area full of metal bins and odd chemical smells. The beautiful cat turned nervously in her box and the kittens began to mew softly, a sleepy protest against having their warm meal cut short. A male two legged opened the door and they were inside a fluorescent lit corridor with white walls and a speckled linoleum floor.
   Ossus began to mutate in time to hear the two legged say “Same deal as before. Let’s see, for a mother cat and four…no five kittens. I must have counted wrong earlier or she’s been hiding one” The other man inserted his hand between two of the kittens for a better view and the first laughed a bit sheepishly.
  “OK” the second replied, “Female with five young. I’ll be right back with your cash.”
  He returned with a small metal cage and the box was shoved inside. Ossus saw him hand the other man some slips of paper that he knew the two leggeds considered valuable. Then the truck driver left by the way they had come, all the while making a strange shrill music with his pursed lips.
  The cats were left alone for only a short time when another two legged arrived, dressed in a white garment with a small lozenge of hard material attached near her shoulder. Ossus read the letters of two legged language written there, but they made little sense to him. “J-O-Y” he noted, hoping to discover some meaning with later reflection.
  They were taken up two floors to a well lighted room and placed on an apparatus with glowing numbers that changed with each cat. The female two legged used a slender tool for recording, scratching rapidly on the stacked papers to her right. She shone bright lights in their ears and eyes, squeezed their bellies and held a metal disk with tubes to each chest in turn. Lastly she stuck them all with small tubes that made him think of an insect’s sting. Osssus watched as each tube changed to a deep scarlet and “JOY” placed them carefully upright in a box. Finally the cats were carried to another windowless room and placed in a small enclosure with a metal gate and a box of dry earth in its corner. Ossus could hear the sounds of other animals around them, restless and pacing or crying softly. Once or twice he saw a paw extend from the cages on either side.
  Ossus lost track of the days. The kittens grew larger and stronger and Ossus with them as one of the litter. They were visited by different two leggeds daily, but most often the one called “JOY” who brought food or carried them individually to the room where she placed them on the scale and filled the stinging tubes
   Ossus saw the beautiful cat and kittens were comfortable enough, even though confined. They had a warm bed out of the rain and for once plenty of food. Still he felt uneasy and although he ventured out in the six legged form every night he was no closer to understanding the purpose of this strange white room full of cats or finding a way for them all to escape the maze of locks and elevators that only he could explore.
.  A day came when the kittens were removed from their mother to individual cages. Not long after one was taken away by a male two legged and did not return. The three remaining kittens began to be visited more frequently by the two leggeds and quickly developed weeping sores on their backs and red, irritated eyes. The beautiful cat herself began to look dull and thin and barely responded when Ossus visited her at night, changing into his cat form and lovingly washing her matted fur.
  Ossus was awakened by the clang of his cage door and a strong grasp on the scruff of his neck. He was lifted and shoved into a carrier on wheels and the beautiful cat tossed in beside him.
  He heard the slick sound of the keycard swipe and the double doors swung open. They were rolling through the hall and then down in a back elevator while the two leggeds laughed and talked in low voices. Ossus felt a sudden wave of panic wash over him but still the beautiful cat lay staring with half open eyes, oblivious or uncaring.
  They arrived at a corridor that widened into a spacious, concrete floored chamber. One end of the room was taken up by what seemed to be an oddly shaped vehicle suspended on metal arms, its single wheel barely touching a round track. Ossus and the beautiful cat were removed from the carrier and placed inside an openwork basket mounted atop the vehicle. When the two leggeds had finished securing the basket in place they climbed a short flight of steps into a glass walled room where Ossus could see other two leggeds watching the chamber from above.
  He heard a whirring as the engine and hydraulics engaged. There was a brief lurch as the vehicle began to turn, slowly building speed until Ossus was overcome with dizziness and the strength of the force that seemed to suck him outward. He felt the basket begin to loosen and tilt and he tried desperately to hold the beautiful cat safe beside him but the vertigo made his body painfully slow to change.
  Abruptly Ossus and the beautiful cat were flung out with an incredible force. For a moment time seemed to stand still, then they were hurtling head first into the barrier wall. Ossus heard the simultaneous cracking of multiple bones and a wet, rending sound as he bounced backward from the impact. His last conscious view was of the beautiful cat sprawled a short distance away, her lovely head split and spilling out a lake of blood and grayish pink matter. He tried to reach out to her and felt his fore limbs lengthen slightly before he was lost in darkness.
 “Joy!…Joy get over here quick!”
The white coated lab technician responded reluctantly to the oddly guttural call from her fellow worker.
“Weren’t these cats from your area?”
She nodded, still keeping her distance. She could see the distinctive markings on the limp bodies from where she stood. Against her will she began to tremble, she hoped not noticeably. No matter how many times she saw this or how often she tried to convince herself it was important and necessary, the sight of the mangled crash test animals still made her ill.
 “Joy! Don’t just stand there--Get over here!”
“Why? I can see enough from here.”
“Joy…” His tone had changed and he looked as if he were having trouble standing. “ I’m asking you …please…come here and tell me what you see. Tell me I’m not hallucinating. Or that I am. Come here and tell me what the hell we’ve done….”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring details...

I was recently commissioned to make a larger (than my normal fae scale) twig spinning wheel for wedding table decor. It measures about ten inches or 25 centimeters high and was an interesting change from the rather persnickety work I normally do with very tiny pieces! It made me long to make human scale furniture again but that will have to wait until I have a larger work space and materials storage. At any rate, this larger scale (although still miniature) spinning wheel could also be an interesting accessory for Blythe dolls and their kin--- or perhaps even Barbie might learn to enjoy some of the old craft!

Some details from the lovely Jardin des plantes de Nantes, where spring unfolds more wonders at an astonishing pace...

quince blossoms
German iris bud
buglosse/alkanet/anchusa officianalis
some most friendly young ducks!
poppy and primroses
salix alba/white willow
quince in the rain
tulip interior